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New e-commerce developments at the Facebook developer conference

Facebook announced a slew of new features that beef up its e-commerce capabilities at its developer conference on Tuesday.

Facebook began their annual F8 Developer conference in San Francisco last night, and they had a whirlwind of things to talk about. Not the least of which included chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg’s impassioned keynote and the addition of new e-commerce enablement tools.

Facebook bots are coming to Messenger
After opening up its chat app Messenger to businesses last year, businesses can now deliver customer support on Facebook Messenger through chatbots. The tool includes an API for the app, as well as chat widgets for the web. The goal here is to allow companies to completely, and efficiently, replace customer service lines, e-commerce portals, and the like with chatbots. Along with chatbots, the Messenger platform will also now support sponsored messages. Ebay was among the first companies to say they will use chat bots to allow messenger users to receive notifications from eBay when an auction they bid on or are watching is about to end or if they were outbid.

This feature is still being tested and people will be able to mute or block messages they are not interested in. You can find the beta release of the Facebook Bot engine here.

Though it’s been greatly anticipated, Facebook isn’t the first to introduce a chat bot store for its messaging app. Last week, Kik unveiled one, and Telegram has had one since last year. On the enterprise side, workplace chat service Slack has had bots integrated into the communication hub for a while, while Microsoft recently unveiled a set of software tools to let developers build bots for its own services, like Skype and Cortana.

But the changes to Messenger, and the growth of chatbots in general, matter when you consider how widespread it has become. Last year, Messenger had 700 million monthly active users, and by now, that number has crossed 900 million according to Facebook. Activity on Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp combined is 60 billion messages a day, compared to 20 billion SMSes each day.

BigCommerce expands availability on Facebook
Facebook partnered with BigCommerce to let more merchants open shops on their Facebook business page. That means they will be able to list inventory directly on the page, where users can browse and purchase items. The feature was already available to select merchants, but the partnership will expand it.

According to Facebook, nearly 50% of Facebook visitors actively look for products, with a majority discovering new products in their News Feed, pages and groups. But social media has been a challenge for retailers. The expanded platform lets retailers add the Shop section to their business’ Facebook Page to display and promote curated product collections, allowing shoppers to discover new products, subscribe to updates when new items are added and purchase them through the business’ online store.

Tags: Customer experience, Facebook, Marketing

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